Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, and the UK have started the annual tactical command post and field training exercise, Bersama Lima 2014.
Conducted in Singapore, Malaysia and the South China Sea, the two-week exercise will see the five power defence arrangement (FPDA) partners deploying their defence force elements to defend against a fictitious security threat in and around the South China Sea.
The participants will tackle a simulated conventional threat on land and at sea.
Australia exercise commander group captain Dennis Tan said the FPDA remains a key component of the country’s regional defence strategy.
"This exercise will give the ADF members the opportunity to work together with FPDA member forces to cultivate stronger regional ties.
"Australia and our FPDA partners are committed to maintaining a stable South East Asian region."
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Approximately 500 Australian Defence Force personnel, including a Platoon from Rifle Company Butterworth, are taking part, alongside the Royal Australian Navy’s Anzac-class frigate HMAS Stuart.
HMAS Stuart is expected to play a significant role in the exercise with its embarked S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter involved in hunting submarines and other maritime activities.
In addition, the Royal Australian Air Force has deployed two AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, while one KA350 King Air light transport aircraft is participating in the drill from the Royal Malaysian Air Force Base Butterworth, Malaysia.
Bersama Lima represents one of the most significant exercises within the FPDA series of activities. It is scheduled to conclude on 22 October.
Signed in 1971, the FPDA is the longest-standing multilateral arrangement in South East Asia, and enables the signatories to consult each other in the event of external aggression or threat of attack against Peninsular Malaysia or Singapore.
Image: FPDA senior representatives at the opening of Bersama Lima 2014 at Changi Naval Base, Singapore. Photo: courtesy of CPL Shannon McCarhty/© Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.